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Grand Rapids in 1856

Scene of early Grand Rapids viewed from the...

Leopold Baillot, Wood Carver

“No, I am not at all afraid of any machine ever beating me out of my life work,” said Leopold Baillot, one of the best, if, indeed, not the very best hand carver in Grand Rapids.

"No machine has ever been devised that will do more than ‘roughout’ a hand carving." 

Mr. Baillot speaks from an experience of 37 years, most of it spent in the production of work of a very high order. Obviously he is a Frenchman although he was born and brought up in the Italian city of Florence. His parents spent many years in that city while his father was botanist to a Russian princess, who spent two months a year under the sunny blue skies of that most beautiful city. In the Russian villa Leopold was born amid surroundings that would give any child of the right temperament a fine start toward an artistic future.

Came then one day a chance given him by the American minister to Italy to come to America—and Grand Rapids—to do hand carving for Berkey & Gay. He remained here but a few months when he went to New York and for many months he did carving on and in three of the then new Vanderbilt mansions on Fifth Avenue.

Grand Rapids was then coming into her own as a furniture center for high-grade goods, and young Baillot chose to return to this city. He has ever since made this city his home, although occasionally he has gone to other cities to execute important commission. He soon entered the shops of the Nelson, Matter Furniture Company, where he became foreman and remained 15 years. For five years he was with Stickley Bros. Company, until that company put out its Mission line, in which carving is practically a minus quantity. Later he was with the C.S. Paine Furniture Company, where he again found an avenue for his artistic work. Just now he is doing similar work with the Grand Rapids Upholstering Company.

Rare delicacy characterizes all of Mr. Baillot’s work. Naturally he is exceptionally fond of the Italian Renaissance period as offering perhaps the best opportunities so far as his work is concerned.

Furniture Manufacturer and Artisan, July 1918, pg. 31

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